How to have a better cygwin terminal

Cygwin is a wonderful tool. However, I don’t really like the default terminal. This article shows how to set up an rxvt terminal instead.

This is a screenshot of the default cygwin bash prompt:

cropped-dos-terminal.png

Copying and pasting is not intuitive, you can’t stretch the box horizontally, and most importantly, it breaks the illusion that I’m on a Unix box. But a better terminal option exists! When you install cygwin, you can also install the rxvt package. After installing the rxvt package, try this in a DOS window:

C:\cygwin\bin\rxvt.exe -fg gray -bg MidnightBlue -fn "Lucida Console-14" -e bash --login -i

You should see a terminal like this:

cropped-rxvt-terminal

As far as I can tell from my experience, this terminal acts exactly like a regular rxvt terminal on a linux box. I can highlight some text with my mouse, and then paste it by hitting either shift+insert or by hitting the middle mouse button. I can resize the terminal horizontally and vertically.

I set up a taskbar icon so that I can get that rxvt very quickly. The icon before the right-most icon will start an rxvt terminal for me.

startbar

Setting it up was really simple. I made a new shortcut by right-clicking on my desktop, then I copied this text:

C:\cygwin\bin\rxvt.exe -fg gray -bg MidnightBlue -fn "Lucida Console-14" -e bash --login -i

into the target field:

shortcut

Then I hit OK, and then dragged the new shortcut into the taskbar, and that’s it!

Published by

matt

My name is Matt Wilson and I live in Cleveland Heights, Ohio. I love random emails from strangers, so get in touch! matt@tplus1.com.

  • Steven

    Thanks, this really helped. However, when drag selecting with the mouse in Vim, the text isn't highlighted until I let go of the button. Any ideas?

  • http://blog.tplus1.com Matt Wilson

    Steven, not sure about that one. I know that there's lots of ways to tweak the way vim handles highlighting though, so I suspect that's what is going on.

    Good luck!

  • http://blog.tplus1.com Matt Wilson

    Thanks Andy!

  • http://code.google.com/p/mintty Andy

    For an alternative that fits better with the rest of Windows, you might want to have a look at MinTTY, which is based on PuTTY's terminal emulator. More info and downloads at http://code.google.com/p/mintty

  • Rob

    Apparently I cannot paste text into the terminal. That discards it completely.

  • http://code.google.com/p/mintty Andy

    Do you mean in MinTTY? Nothing at all, either via middle click, context menu, or Shift-Insert? There's a known issue with pasting into ncurses apps discarding all but the first line, but otherwise it should be working. It'd be great if you could give a few more details, or even better submit an error report via the issue tracker on the project page.

  • http://mintty.googlecode.com Andy

    Hi, MinTTY is now available as Cygwin package, to be found under the 'Shells' category of 'setup.exe'.

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    It would be great if you could give a few more details, or even better submit an error report via the issue tracker on the project pages with in it.

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  • http://latinsud.blogspot.com/ SuD

    I tried puttycyg, and finally i am using “Console” (http://sourceforge.net/projects/console/).

  • http://latinsud.blogspot.com/ SuD

    I tried puttycyg, and finally i am using “Console” (http://sourceforge.net/projects/console/).

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  • William Dowling

    Just tried mintty — it's great!